Safeway Reinstates Employee Who Stopped Man From Beating Up Pregnant Girlfriend

Last week we told you about the California Safeway employee who had been suspended after intervening in a fight between a man and his pregnant girlfriend. Now there’s some good news to report, as the grocery store chain has given the employee his job back, along with pay for the weeks during which he was suspended.

The man had been suspended for a month following the incident, in which the employee — who worked at the store’s meat counter — stopped a customer from kicking his six-month pregnant girlfriend.

But the United Food and Commercial Workers union had filed a grievance on the employee’s behalf and now tells the AP that the suspension has been lifted.

“While Safeway has legitimate policies and concerns around workplace violence and the appropriate employee response, once the company heard our presentation of the case including Ryan’s explanation of the incident, management realized that the suspension was not appropriate and immediately worked with us to resolve the grievance and put Ryan back to work,” a union rep explains.

More than 180,000 people signed a petition to have Safeway reinstate the employee.

“Knowing that I had all these people standing behind me and that I wasn’t alone really helped me through this difficult time,” said the man following the announcement. “I’ll be returning to work soon and I’m ready to move forward.”

Safeway had suspended the man because store policy says no one except security personnel are supposed to involve themselves physically in customer altercations. However, the employee says he acted on instinct when he came to the pregnant woman’s rescue.

Even the local police chief defended the Safeway worker at the time of his suspension, saying, “We understand about policy, but at some point someone has to do something. And in my mind, in this case Ryan did the right thing.”

Safeway clerk who defended woman reinstated [SFgate.com]

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  1. comatose says:

    THOSE DAMN UNIONS, BUNCH OF COMMIES!!! oh, nevermind……..

    • IR1 says:

      well, union workers are generally not commies, but the people who run the unions often sure sound like they are, not to mention they are the ones who decide what to do with all those union dues. Plenty of people I know are in a union because they have no choice, and their dues go to pay for politics they do not agree with at all.

      • GearheadGeek says:

        Of course, when you work for a corporation, a big part of the fruits of your labor may go to supporting politics you don’t agree with at all, and the only vote you get to have in THAT is whether or not you quit.

        I agree that modern unions are far less than perfect, but they’re also far more than useless as Ryan from Safeway will surely agree.

        • Kate says:

          I agree. I joined a union so I could help control their actions. I only did some good.

        • Firethorn says:

          I’m a libertarian and I support unions – I just believe that their power should be semi-limited.

      • sigh says:

        Yeah, but they probably love the higher wages, fairer hours and better benefits the union helped give them.

        People who whine about unions need to take history lessons.

        • jimbo831 says:

          Because some unions in history have been great, doesn’t mean all unions are great. I was “represented” against my will by a grocer’s union who took over at the grocery store I worked at when I was 16. They charged me $10 per week to be a member and got me a $0.05/hour raise and changed nothing about my already great working conditions. Yeah, not a good deal for me.

          All for unions existing, but forcing workers to join them is the problem. They don’t represent everyone. Let them represent the people that want their help.

          • duderonomy says:

            They charged me $10 per week to be a member and got me a $0.05/hour raise and changed nothing about my already great working conditions. Yeah, not a good deal for me.

            Your already great working conditions…WHICH WERE PROBABLY ESTABLISHED BY A UNION

        • Trireme32 says:

          Yes, unions had their place at one time. These days labor laws have taken the place of unions’ usefulness. Now unions are naught but greedy organizations that drain their “voluntary” members’ paychecks.

          • SnickerDoodle says:

            Labour laws only set minimum standards. Unions allow for agreements for specific activities, seniority, promotions, leaves, vacations and other details that labour laws do not address.

          • pgr says:

            But, those scum-bag Republicans are tying every dirty trick in the book to get rid of any and all laws that protect anyone other than their 1% backers overlords.

            Wait till the darling of them all “The Mittster” takes over. Vote for this asshole and you might as ell lush all your rights and bennies down the crapper!

            OBAMA for president – save the USA from the Tea Party before it’s to late!

          • BobOki says:

            I could not disagree with you more. Right now is when unions are their best. When fed/state/local are attacking employee rights, removing their jobs, cutting benifits, lowering pay, that is the time for unions. This is the entire reason unions came about, to give the workers a voice with power behind it to better themselves and someone to “protect” their wages and rights. Don’t expect bought and paid for govt or elected members to do it.

          • Kuri says:

            And without unions lobbyists would set everything right back to square one.

          • DFManno says:

            WRONG! One employer improperly classified me as an independent contractor, then fired me when I complained about late paychecks. The union – which I could not join because I was not classified as an employee – filed a grievance on my behalf and got me a $7500 settlement.

          • MarkFL says:

            Clearly you work in some sort of executive job. Workers today make less in real, inflation-adjusted wages than they have in years, and in many companies, raises have been non-existent over the past several years. Benefits have been scaled back, and the working class is being raped. Workers in union industries have it a little better, as they have collective bargaining agreements, but those terms tend to be negotiated away as soon as a company claims economic difficulties. Meanwhile, executive compensation has skyrocketed, and bonuses are untouchable because they’re “required by contract” — as if a CBA isn’t a contract.

    • Scooby111 says:

      Just because an institution does something right doesn’t mean that institution shouldn’t be changed. Like all groups, a specific union should be judged on the totality of it’s impact, not a single data point or two.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Oh, a union debate! I can’t wait for the unique ebb and flow of conversation to occur. Every time we talk about unions, the comments are different.

      /snark

    • darcmosch says:
  2. MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

    That’s good. I haven’t set foot in Safeway ever since I heard about them suspending this guy.

    Of course, since there isn’t a Safeway within 800 miles of me, it wasn’t too hard to take that stand.

  3. Marlin says:

    Damm unions always ruining it for good people.

    /s

  4. SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:

    Well I’m glad that ended happily, although w/o a union advocating for him I think he’d still be out of a job

    • IR1 says:

      he was suspended not fired…

    • frodolives35 says:

      I think 180,000 people on a petition was more of a factor.

      • MrEvil says:

        Online petitions aren’t even useful as toilet paper. What’s the 180,000 signature petition going to do? Scare Safeway into hiring him back? The Union has much more teeth with contractual recourse if the Union feels slighted.

  5. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Good! Glad to see a happy ending for him. I just hope the pregnant woman can get some help, too.

    • Costner says:

      Yes…. everyone deserves a happy ending!

    • JennQPublic says:

      Doubtful. If the abuser felt comfortable enough to get physical with her in a public place, I’m sure this is a regular occurrence. And she did the smartest thing a woman in this situation can do- made a baby with him. I’m sure that will calm him down and he’ll be an excellent father.

      /s

  6. Velvet Jones says:

    Hey, where’s that whack job who was mercilessly derided this guy for stepping in. I guess they’ll just have to eat shit and die now.

    • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

      Haven’t seen him around recently, but I’d like to go ahead and give him a big ol’ internet Fuck You.

    • runswithscissors says:

      Ditto. That person was a real piece of work, blaming the abused woman and employee.

      Call me crazy, but I blame – oh, I don’t know – THE MOFO HITTING THE PREGNANT WOMAN.

      Le sigh.

  7. The Black Bird says:

    That’s great to hear but I’d also like to know about the Safeway story that Consumerist killed. You know, the one about Bob Gordon calling Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi pigs.

    Care to enlighten us?

    • Jawaka says:

      Couldn’t care less.

      Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      It’s not slander if it’s true.

    • Doubting thomas says:

      So you are saying that a blog killed a national news story. Wow That’s pretty impressive. Go consumerist.

      Oh and Pelosi and Clinton are not pigs. Pigs are intelligent and loyal creatures.

  8. guspaz says:

    How come The Consumerist calls him “the employee”, “the man”, and “the safeway worker”, when everybody else calls him… “Ryan”?

  9. balderdashed says:

    It’s understandable that in the wake of a public relations fiasco, Safeway felt compelled to reverse itself and rehire the guy. Still, its decision may not prove to be a good thing. Despite our admiration for one clerk’s courage and principles, Safeway’s policy that employees should contact security rather than get involved in a violent physical altercation makes good sense, and is likely to save lives in the long run. Safeway’s decision to make an exception in this case sends a mixed message: If you violate company policy by intervening in an assault (or perhaps, in a robbery or other potentially violent act), we might still fire you — or we might not, if enough people consider you a hero. That could prompt others to similar heroics, and while the results might turn out well in an individual case, they could also be tragic. The next time, in a comparable situation, somebody could get killed, perhaps an innocent bystander. Safeway should have stuck to its guns, despite public opinion.

    • Mark702 says:

      STFU

    • incident_man says:

      For the vast majority of companies, “company policy” exists for one reason only: To cover their asses. Truth be told, they don’t give a damn about their customers or their employees. The latter is what makes unions STILL relevant and needed.

      This guy saw a unmistakable danger to another human being and did something about it; many kudos to him, and I wish there were more like him. Besides, that’s what being a part of civilised society means: To help another person when needed, especially when other safeguards fail or are not available at the time (the police, for example).

      It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the logical argument: To follow company policy without exception. That’s not what makes us human; compassion for others has to enter into the equation somewhere.

    • David in Brasil says:

      Given most people’s level of valor, I doubt that we’ll see a rash of interventions into violent altercations.

    • bben says:

      Yup, one size always fits all. The reasonable thing to do is whenever any policy is ‘violated’ is to review to see if the ‘violation’ was justified IN THIS CASE.

      Authority tends to treat POLICY as some kind of god. You MUST follow the POLICY and do whatever it says. If you do not follow POLICY to the letter then you are automatically branded a heretic no matter that you had a legitimate reason.

      No policy fits all cases. That does not mean there should not be policies, it just means that every policy violation should be reviewed to see if there was justification or not. In this case, possibly allowing Ryan to continue working while under review would have been more appropriate. But the company POLICY did not allow for that. The only option the POLICY allowed was instant termination. And the union likely agreed to that policy in advance.

      Another example of lack of common sense in setting and enforcing rules.

      • balderdashed says:

        I’d agree that no policy fits all cases, and there will be times when violating a policy is the only moral choice — and making an exception the right choice. But if we’re going to argue on behalf of “common sense,” and reviewing every policy violation “to see if there was justification or not,” wouldn’t common sense include looking at the effect of that violation not just in the short term? The clerk couldn’t know for certain, when he chose to “do the right thing,” what the outcome would be. Likewise, we can’t know for certain whether the company’s after-the-fact tacit approval of his actions might inspire other employees to intervene — bravely but unwisely, in ways that would lead to some unnecessary tragedies down the road. We all need to make the best call we can, and in doing so, somebody also has to look at the bigger picture. That seems like common sense to me.

    • wren337 says:

      I agree, safeway employees should have guns

    • Firethorn says:

      I disagree that a universal policy of disallowing intervention will ‘save lives in the long run’. It’s all situational, and I’d say that letting people use their heads will result in more saved lives in the long run. The policy isn’t to save lives. It’s to limit Safeway’s liability. No more, no less.

      Your proposal of a ‘zero thought’ policy is actually counter-productive.

    • runswithscissors says:

      It isn’t a scalable nor sustainable policy if implemented without exception. You would literally force employees to chose between saving a life in situations where seconds make the difference, or losing their jobs.

      We can’t have a functioning society where that’s the norm. There has to be a better way.

  10. Bort says:

    public shaming has quite the dramatic impact, of course they would likely have us believe they would have taken the same action on their own…

  11. Bionic Data Drop says:

    So once they got the whole story, they decided to do the right thing. Wouldn’t it have been easier to get the whole story before reacting in the first place? A five minute conversation would have saved them from public shaming.

  12. SunsetKid says:

    Safeway has not been getting good press in Northern California. An employee has just been arrested for murder of a 15 year old girl. And an officer of the company said nasty things about Hillary Clinton at their public annual meeting.

  13. dicobalt says:

    Does corporate policy such as this conflict with good samaritan laws?

    • GoldVRod says:

      “good samaritan laws”

      A Seinfeld fan, I see! Despite what you may have read/heard of/seen on Seinfeld, there really isn’t such a law.

      • Misha says:

        Um, there actually are such things as Good Samaritan laws, though you’re correct in that they generally don’t work in the way they were portrayed. I say “generally” because, for example, in Quebec, a failure to help a person in peril, if it is possible and does not endanger the rescuer, DOES lead to a legal wrong.

      • kenj0418 says:

        There is in my state. It was discussed In my First Aid/CPR training.

        I don’t know what the Seinfeld episode portrayed it as, but my state’s law exempts you from liability if you help someone (without charge) in an emergency if you are acting in good faith and within your training. (So I’d be OK if I accidentally broke a rib doing CPR – but could be sued if I tried that ballpoint pen emergency tracheotomy I saw on TV.)

      • MarkFL says:

        There ARE Good Samaritan laws, although they vary from state to state. Unlike the Seinfeld episode, they usually don’t require someone to help, but rather they protect people who do offer assistance from being sued.

        The laws also may be more specfic; for example a doctor who offers medical aid because he just happens to be at the scene of an accident usually can’t be sued for malpractice. My family had an experience with this when I was in school — my mother and stepfather were in a serious car accident in front of a pizza parlor, where a doctor happened to be having dinner with his wife. He was the first person there and may very well have saved Mom’s life. Without a Good Samaritan law, he could very well have been prevented from offering assistance by his malpractice insurer. (I don’t think he sent a bill, either. Thank you again, Dr. Harrell.)

        • GoldVRod says:

          It’s clear from the context of the question that I replied to that current USA GS laws are not what I was talking about. The question basically asks “If I in theory should help someone in need but corporate policy prevents me getting involved and so I do not help, am I contravening any current GS laws?”

          There ARE no such laws in the United states to which the answer would be ‘yes’

          GS laws are solely to protect (usually) trained staff and personal from illicit lawsuits in cases of emergency care.

          A cursory glance at the context of what was being discussed would have rendered your answer, and others’ completely and utterly moot.

  14. daynight says:

    Unions are like health insurance. It is a money drain when you a doing great. Get sick and it is worth it. When our economy was going great, unions because a quaint vestige of older, badder times. Now that things are not so rosy and the 1% is trying to squeeze the 99% even more, unions will again be able to provide help. As long as they can get lean and mean as they once were.

    • Firethorn says:

      That’s for a good union. Some bad unions gain way too much power, leading to abuse – corruption, lazy workers, extreme worker stratification such as the stories about needing an electrician to change a light bulb or plug in a desktop computer, or only certain employees being allowed to sweep the floor.

      Like in all things, there needs to be a balance. From my readings, most employers are actually more scared about loss of flexibility than they are about the pay.

  15. Hibyeman says:

    WTF why suspend the employee who happened to do something safeways manager would take to long to get there to do

  16. Clyde Barrow says:

    appropriate employee response? WTF? How about calling it, “appropriate human intervention response”. It’s called looking out for someone that is pregnant. Stupid company’s with stupid policies. They have completely forgotten that their employee’s and customer’s are what keeps them in business and thus sustain the bottom line. American company’s today have gotten so twisted and muddled in their policy’s that they have lost sight of what really counts.

  17. maruawe says:

    One cannot stand around and watch abuse without being concerned with the safety of everyone close by … The employee did the right thing

  18. Kuri says:

    Good on Safeway. It was only a matter of time before the douchebag turned his rage on someone else.

  19. DragonThermo says:

    As much as we hate Unions, if they spent their time and spent their members’ dues to support their members when management does something stupid, they might actually be a benefit to society.

    This story reminds me of an unrelated tale of a couple in Indianapolis who were savagely beaten and robbed in broad daylight while dozen(s) of people stood around watching the attack and who did absolutely nothing.

    Clearly, Safeway management are cyborgs and have no sense of empathy. They do not have the capacity to empathize with the pregnant woman being kicked and beaten, begging for help, and everyone standing around watching like sheep.